It was a beautiful day for a cross country meet and Nagawicka Park was especially decked out with fall colors at their peak. I originally went just to be outside to enjoy the weather, but I also wanted to watch some of my "kids" compete. Kevin, Rachel, Josh, Sam, and others. I saw the Physics teacher there. He was doing the same thing. Something he said is still ringing in my heart... "It's all about relationships, isn't it?"It has been fifteen years since I last attended this big meet and the memories came flooding back. At that time I went to watch my own kids run. I loved those days and I especially enjoyed the cross country meets. I was always an enthusiastic parent spectator: I'd begin at the starting line watching the runners take off; I'd dash up the hill to the next vantage point; run across the park to another spot where I could see them as they emerged from the woods; then it was down to the finish line to cheer them in! "Push it!" "Go!" "Lean forward!" "Catch the one ahead of you!" "Faster!" "Pass her!" "Now go get the next one."
Today I went to watch my "school" kids. They were surprised. Delighted even. Hearing me on the side of the trail, they would glance over at me and I would see a tiny flicker of recognition. I even sensed that they pushed just a little bit harder then. Afterwards, "Wow, you came!" "Thank you!" "Did you see me catch them right after that turn?" "I was off my personal best, but my knee was really hurting."
"But you finished strong! You did a great job!" I shook their hands, met some parents and came away proud of each and every one.
"You're right Mr. V, it's all about relationships!" The teaching will come later......